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U.S. forces shoot Iraqi civilians

Al Jazeera Magazine | November 21 2005

U.S. occupation forces opened fire on a crowded minibus near the Iraqi city of Baquba on Monday, killing five members of an Iraqi family, including three children, and wounding three others, witnesses and police said, according to Reuters news agency.

A U.S. military spokesman claimed that the minivan carrying the Iraqi family failed to stop as it approached a roadblock at about 0800 (0500 GMT) outside Baquba.

According to Reuters, the Iraqi family was traveling from Balad, a town about 80 km north of Baghdad, to attend a funeral in the nearby city of Baquba when U.S. troops opened fire on the minibus.

Ahmed Kamel al-Sawamara, a 22-year-old who was driving the vehicle, said he had no time to react when U.S. troops opened fire on the minibus.

"The soldiers started shooting at us from all over," he said, according to BBC. "I slowed down and pulled off the road, but they continued firing.

"I saw my family killed, one after the other, and then the car caught fire. I dragged their bodies out."

“Heads were blown off”

"We felt bullets hitting the car from behind and from in front," one survivor said.

"Heads were blown off. One child had his hand shot off," he said.

Major Hussein Ali of the Iraqi police said that U.S. troops seized the minibus the family was traveling in shortly after the shooting.

Police and witnesses said five people were killed, including three young children.

The wounded included two women and one child, the survivors said.

Reuters TV footage showed the dead children in a morgue in Baquba and relatives kissing another dead body on a morgue trolley.

"They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.

Sine the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, there have been repeated incidents in which American forces have fired on civilian vehicles.

Although the U.S. army admitted in the past that it accidentally killed innocent civilians at roadblocks and checkpoints, it claims that it does its best to ensure it doesn’t hurt civilians.

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